U.S. appeals to Aristide not to return to Haiti before Sunday vote

14:08, March 15, 2011      

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The U.S. government said Monday it is against the return of former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide to Haiti before the second round of the presidential election on the Caribbean island on March 20.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that the U.S. are concerned that the presence of the former president could put the electoral process in Haiti in jeopardy and appealed to Aristide to postpone his return.

Toner said that although Aristide has the right to come back to Haiti from his exile abroad before the March 20 elections, it could not be seen as anything but a "conscious decision" to try to influence the vote.

He said the U.S. appealed to Aristide not to return home until after the electoral process has been completed, to allow the Haitian people to carry out their vote in a peaceful environment.

Local media have reported since last month the possible return from exile of Aristide, saying that Haiti's current President Rene Preval has authorized Aristide's return.

Aristide had been president of Haiti three times and ousted twice since 1990. He fled into exile after a violent uprising in February 2004 and ended up living in South Africa. But he still enjoys broad popular support by Haiti's poorest working classes.

Five of the candidates that competed in the first round of presidential elections in Haiti have announced their support for the singer Michel Martelly, who now faces the former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, in Sunday's run off vote.

A poll published by local media last week found that Martelly has support from 50.8 percent of voters, compared to 46.2 percent for Manigat.

Source: Xinhua

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